Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Communist Chinese poisoned toothpaste disguised as "Made in Mexico"?

For years, the debate over the securing of America's southern border (i.e., the one with Mexico) has been about illegal aliens. Suddenly, Steve Janke has found a reason for us to be worried about something else - Communist Chinese poisoned toothpaste "Made in Mexico."

To recap, the Food and Drug Administration has already warned Americans not to use toothpaste sent from Communist China, due to the likelihood that any toothpaste from there has been poisoned. Colgate toothpaste, by contrast, is "Made in Mexico."

Or is it (SJ, emphasis added, link in original)?

The big manufacturers, such as Colgate, a division Colgate-Palmolive, make their toothpaste elsewhere. The tube I have says "Made in Mexico".

I should have left it there. Instead, I decided to do a bit of checking, and now I'm worried. Made in Mexico? If so, why would this very senior Chinese official, Cheng Siwei, brag about Colgate toothpaste being made in China for export to the United States?

PAUL SOLMAN: We were here to interview one of China's current top leaders, Cheng Si-wei, an economist in the 2,000-year-old tradition of Confucian
scholar politicians. The author of 28 books, Vice Chairman Cheng is also known as the godfather of venture capital in China.

CHENG SIWEI: Yes. Some people told me, you know, average Americans,
you know, they use actually now in their daily life, they use many cheap Chinese
goods from morning to the evening; when they woke up, their blanket is made in China. When they wear shoes to go jogging, the shoes, Nike shoes, made in China.


CHENG SIWEI: Yes. And they use a toothbrush, it's made in China. The Colgate Toothpaste is made in China.

PAUL SOLMAN: Colgate Toothpaste is made in China?

CHENG SIWEI: Certainly. American people are really benefiting from cheaper Chinese goods.

That was in October 2005. Maybe that was once true, but is no longer true. Or maybe Siwei was lying, or just ignorant of where toothpaste used by Americans is made. Or maybe he's telling the truth -- that the toothpaste, or major components of the product, is manufactured in China and then repackaged or otherwise reworked in some way in Mexico as a final step, with Mexico therefore being identified as the country of manufacture.

Does Cheng Siwei know what he's talking about? He was Vice Minister of the Chemical Industry from 1994 through 1997, and is currently a vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the de facto legislative body of the People's Republic of China. He speaks with the authority of the Chinese government.

These are questions that need to be asked. In the meantime, keeping Communist-poisoned toothpaste out of the United States may also mean keeping a better eye on Colgate's "Mexican" toothpaste, too.

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